First Small Steps in Space: UK Space Conference

Months ago Sam suggested that as I now worked in the space industry, I ought to learn about it! So here I am, space virgin, about to attend the two day UK Space Conference. A combination of trepidation and my long forgotten school physics lessons echo in my footsteps as I approach the SECC in Glasgow for registration.

My first session is less a toe in the water, and more like dipping all my digits. Twenty different five minute presentations, and despite the speakers being constantly pursued by a red bar showing their diminishing time they passed on huge amounts of information. My eclectic intensive induction covered everything from potential UK spaceports and low cost launchers, through solar sails and orbital debris recovery, before finishing with earth observation data applications and swarms of micro-spacecraft orbiting the planet. The heliospheric imagery of solar ejection from Prof. Richard Harrison of RAL Space was fascinating.

Either side of lunch were, surprisingly, inspiring plenary sessions exploring the potential growth opportunities for the UK space sector. A challenging ambition was outlined which would take courage, innovation and partnership to achieve. It sounded impressive. Perhaps I joined the space sector at the right time!

Final session of the day was an examination of the Smart City concept from a variety of viewpoints, highly appropriate given Glasgow is the UK’s Smart City demonstrator site. Prof. Paul Monks, University of Leicester, imagery on air pollution was very interesting. To me it was clear that the integration of existing data sources, together with the ability to deliver the resulting information to the right people in an effective manner is needed to underpin this work. Not easy again, but work is being planned.

Overall an intriguing, interesting and inspirational initial induction. To borrow from Neil Armstrong, whom I found out apparently had Scottish ancestry, today I took my first small steps in space!